Bhopal: On the day of Amritmahotsava (75th birthday) of late Madhavrao Scindia, his son Jyotiraditya finally decided to pull the rug from under Kamal Nath. It will be the most memorable Holi in the annals of the quirky, feudal politics of Madhya Pradesh. What started as a fight over Rajya Sabha seats is likely to culminate in the demise of a government.
It is a sort of homecoming for the Scindia dynasty, which has always been associated with the Hindu Mahasabha. Jyotiraditya’s grandmother Rajmata was amongst the tallest leaders of the Mahasabha and then the Jan Sangh. She was also a founder member of the BJP, along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Both his paternal aunts –Vasundhara and Yashodhara have been with the BJP. Though Madhavrao was associated with the Congress for very long, he started out as a Jan Sangh MP in 1972. He escaped prison during the Emergency with Indira Gandhi’s support and became an independent MP in 1977 much to the chagrin of his own mother. Later, when Gandhi came to power in 1980, he joined the Congress and continued till the Hawala scandal of 1996, when he again fought and won as an Independent, only to later rejoin the Congress.
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) March 10, 2020
Amit Shah has rightly gauged Jyotiraditya’s desperation to be in power, which was being blocked by Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh. For Shah and Modi, the most important thing right now is to get two Rajya Sabha seats from MP, and they are likely to succeed, either with cross-voting or the resignation of Congress MLAs.
Now there are several scenarios that will emerge over the next two days. Let us discuss some of them below here.
- Scindia, as expected, may join the BJP, when the Congress expells him because of his resignation. He will get a cabinet berth at the Centre. His wish to go to the Rajya Sabha will be fulfilled, but not from the Congress.
- It is still doubtful if all 20 (or 17) MLAs will actually resign because most of them know that winning their seat again will not be easy. But if one were to expect the worst for Kamal Nath, then 20 MLAs (The Wire has previously reported 22 MLAs, but two have come back to the Kamal Nath fold) would resign and speaker N.P. Prajapati will have to take a call. He may reject the BJP’s current plan for online or video resignations and insist on all the MLAs being present in the house. The BJP will then follow the Karnataka-Yeddyurappa model and bring them all together, under the CRPF’s guard, to the assembly.
- It will mean the Congress will be reduced to 93 seats from its current strength of 113 (assuming all those who resigns are from the Congress) and if the six MLAs (2 BSP, 2 SP and 2 Independents) continue to support the government, the grand old party’s strength will still be 100 or thereabouts to the BJP’s 107. In a house reduced to 211 (or less,) the BJP will be able to form the government.
- Narendra Singh Tomar may be Modi-Shah’s choice to lead the party, though Shivraj Singh Chouhan will continue to pitch his might. By sending Tomar to MP, the BJP will keep Scindia on his feet, as Tomar is also from Gwalior. He is also a Union minister and his portfolio may be offered to Scindia. Another point in Tomar’s favour is that the assembly constituency he has represented in the past has fallen vacant due to the death of the sitting MLA, so no BJP MLA needs to resign to make way for him.
- The last date to file nominations for the Rajya Sabha elections is March 13 and most of the drama will play out between now and then. It would appear that the BJP is now certain to get two of the three seats up for grabs.
- The rebel MLAs may not choose to resign just yet and cross-vote instead. The BJP, of course, will be more comfortable with their resignations right away.
- The Scindia rebels, including ministers Govind Singh Rajput and Tulsi Silawat, will have the toughest decisions to make. Gopal Bhargava, who belongs to Sagar and is the current leader of opposition and a contender for the CM post, will not allow Rajput to become another pole figure in his own area. Similarly, Silawat’s loss from Indore can be ensured by Digvijaya Singh, who controls the politics there at the moment.
- If the government falls, the greatest loss will be to some bureaucrats who had switched sides and were supporting Kamal Nath. The biggest loser will be S.R. Mohanty, who is retiring this month as chief secretary and was set to take over as the chairman of the electricity tribunal. Now his appointment is uncertain. The rest, like Manoj Shrivastava, will now show their true colours to Kamal Nath.
Though Scindia may get what he wants now, most observers believe his existence in the BJP will always be precarious. His aunts have been badly sidelined and he does not fit into its ethos, as personally he has been with the Congress for 18 years. The younger lot in the BJP will not let him settle and he may feel as left out as all latecomers to a closely-knit party. He will nevertheless go down in history as someone who brought down a sitting Congress government.